Layers seem to be right up there with Point, Line, Plane and Scale, in regards to the frequency of graphic components we see in our everyday lives. Whether they’re in the complicated form of collages (cut and paste), or simply the progression of time mapped out onto a single surface (temporal), layers constitute “the simultaneous, overlapping components of an image or sequence” (Graphic Design: The New Basics, Lupton and Cole-Phillips, 141).
In Lynda Barry’s What It Is, layers might be an understatement for describing her mixed-media-saturated pages, and really any page you choose could be an example, but on page 95 of the graphic novel, we can easily see the layering. We can see the jagged edges of pieces of paper she ripped out and then drew over, like with the fish with the projectile coming out of its head, or the macabre butterfly she cut out, colored, and pasted onto the page. We also see the essence of a complex red border she uses as almost mountains in various places on the page, and the usage of water color that truly saturates the page and gives it a wash of consistency in the chaos.
Then we see a slightly different example of layering in the graphic novel Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, where we see the implied printed layer of a house, but that’s cut into so as to peer inside. This is an example of layering, because the circles aren’t consistent to the background, giving them the nuance of being cut out and pasted on top of the house, which in a sense they are, at least how they’re represented on the page.